Living with Shakespeare: Essays by Writers, Actors, and Directors. Vintage: Random. Apr. 2013. 544p. ed. by Susannah Carson. index. ISBN 9780307742919. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780307743404. LIT
Carson (editor, A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Authors on Why We Read Jane Austen) has recruited pieces from prominent individuals on their personal and/or professional engagement with Shakespeare. It’s an appealing collection, with a dozen essays by actors, eight by directors, ten by writers (e.g., Margaret Drabble and Joyce Carol Oates), and seven by academics, including physicist Brian Cox. They cover a range of topics but principally two: why Shakespeare still appeals and how one goes about “doing” him—acting, directing, adapting, even simply reading his work. The quality of the essays ranges from above average to excellent. The best include Germaine Greer writing about floral imagery in Shakespeare and Royal Shakespeare Company voice director Cicely Berry on presenting Lear. There are lively and informative essays by actors Anthony Sher, Rory Kinnear, Eamonn Walker, Jess Winfield, Ralph Fiennes, and James Earl Jones, and a fascinating essay by the codirectors of New York’s Fiasco Theater Company on staging the virtually undoable Cymbeline. VERDICT This collection is a must for anyone interested in reading, acting, or directing Shakespeare. A good selection for most libraries. Enthusiastically recommended.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
Cott, Jonathan. Days That I’ll Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Doubleday. 2013. 256p. illus. ISBN 9780385536370. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385536387. MUSIC
Cott (contributing editor, Rolling Stone; Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein) delivers a raw and intimate portrait of the much-written-about—but still fascinating—Beatle and his wife and muse. Cott weaves expanded, more in-depth versions of his previously published Rolling Stone profiles (which were based on 1968, 1971, and 1980 interviews) into a completely new, unified work, adding a touching 2012 interview with a reflective Ono. The 1968 conversation is the book’s highlight, with Lennon laying bare his thoughts on Beatlemania, his bandmates, songwriting techniques and inspirations, and the public’s mostly spiteful reaction to his then-new relationship with Ono. Cott is an outstanding interviewer who doesn’t let his own obvious reverence and affection for both Lennon and his wife keep him from asking tough questions. The book includes stunning images from Ono’s art films and charming photographs of the couple at home and at play. VERDICT Recommended for admirers of Robert Hilburn’s Cornflakes with John Lennon, not to mention the legion of Lennon fans who want something more personal than a standard biography.—Doug King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
Condry, Ian. The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story. Duke Univ. 2013. 264p. illus. index. ISBN 9780822353942. pap. $23.95. FILM
In this highly engaging study, Condry (comparative media studies, MIT; Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization) theorizes that the collective social energy created from grassroots fan interest in various Japanese media—television, film, manga, and merchandise—has made anime a global phenomenon. Anime’s international success was initially achieved without aid of corporations, and so Condry draws parallels with hip-hop, another wildly successful art form with grassroots origins. The book also examines how a deeply Japanese genre has become so popular in the West. Condry talks about the history of anime and its intimate connections with manga and with Japanese culture itself. As more and more fans outside the country grew to love anime, it became a major cultural export for Japan. VERDICT This book is highly recommended for all lovers of Japanese history, Japanese culture, anime, manga, and animation.—Sally Bryant, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA
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The following titles are reviewed in the March 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Spring, Chris. African Textiles Today. Smithsonian Inst. 2012. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9781588343802. $45. FINE ARTS
Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy. Liveright: Norton. Apr. 2013. 544p. trans. from Italian by Clive James. ISBN 9780871404480. $29.95. LIT
Davies, Gloria. Lu Xun’s Revolution: Writing in a Time of Violence. Harvard Univ. Apr. 2013. 448p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780674072640. $35. LIT
Jen, Gish. Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self. Harvard Univ. Mar. 2013. 202p. photogs. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674072831. $18.95. LIT
Steinmeyer, Jim. Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker’s Trail of Blood. Tarcher: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2013. 336p. bibliog. ISBN 9780142421888. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101602775. LIT
Bennett, Andy. Music, Style, and Aging: Growing Old Gracefully?. Temple Univ. 2013. 210p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439908075. $74.50; pap. ISBN 9781439908082. $25.95. MUSIC
Littleton, Cynthia. TV on Strike: Why Hollywood Went to War Over the Internet. Syracuse Univ. 2013. 288p. index. ISBN 9780815610083. $29.95. TV
Ortner, Sherry B. Not Hollywood: Independent Film at the Twilight of the American Dream. Duke Univ. 2013. 352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822354109. $39.95. pap. ISBN 9780822354260. $24.95. FILM
Welsh, Mary Sue. One Woman in a Hundred: Edna Phillips and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Univ. of Illinois. 2013. 296p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780252037368. $35. MUSIC
Hallman, J.C. Wm & H’ry: Literature, Love, and the Letters Between William and Henry James. Univ. of Iowa. Mar. 2013. 164p. illus. notes. ISBN 9781609381516. $21. PHIL
Kuusisto, Stephen. Letters to Borges. Copper Canyon. 2012. 98p. ISBN 9781556593864. pap. $16. POETRY
Drain, Lauren & Lisa Pulitzer. Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church. Grand Central. Mar. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781455512423. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455512430. REL
Grayling, A.C. The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Mar. 2013. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9781620401903. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781620401910. REL
Hollingworth, Miles. Saint Augustine of Hippo: An Intellectual Biography. Oxford Univ. May 2013. 400p. notes. index. ISBN 9780199861590. $29.99. REL